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America's Next Top Model Gets Snappy With The Social Media Challenge

Not even a DJ Khalid speech on the metaphorical power of sunlight can stop the models from arguing like internet trolls.

Panel Postmortem

There's not much to write home about here, not that that would stop Coryanne from penning a ten-page screed about everything that irritated her between the time the models arrive home and when her droopy ringlets hit the pillow. After a whiny phone call with her friend, Coryanne's character takes a hard left turn from "substandard version of her supermodel mom" to "the girl who's mad she's missing a Drake concert to be on Top Model." Later, Coryanne confesses she misses L.A. where she just needed to be pretty, and is tired of living in a city where she's expected to expel words from the face hole that's connected to the thinky part of her head. It's only a matter of time for this one.

In other narrative news, the twins are still totes jelly Courtney got best photo, and Krislian is still self-conscious about repetitively being called a ho.

Social Media Model Management

Considering Top Model's erstwhile forays into social media (last season's STEM-themed Vine challenge; Bryan Boy) I haven't exactly been looking forward to this season's experimentations with grabbing those elusive likes and faves. But, I suppose, if they're going to make twelve women figure out how to use Snapchat stories to promote their bossy business brands, it's not the worst idea to helicopter in the king of beautifully empty content, DJ Khalid. "To be a superstar you have to be a superstar," Khalid tells the models. That doesn't make sense because it doesn't make sense. Then he and Rita ask them to pair off and film each other on the streets of New York in lingerie.

For the most part, everyone sticks to the types of banalities you'd expect to hear in a lingerie commercial about being yourself and not minding the haters and living out loud and having a fun time and being unique and not taking life too seriously and smelling the roses and selling underwear. Marissa premieres a gobbledygook catchphrase, "t'zit, t'zam," that means absolutely nothing but which I'll be using as my personal mantra for 2017. Coryanne basically starts humping a stranger and then asks if he finds her attractive even though she has a (sorta) small butt. Cody rides a scooter. All of this content Khalid and Rita ostensibly watch as it's posted live, while Khalid responds with comparable nonsense like "that's major key."

The story Khalid finds to be the majorest key is Courtney's ode to diversity and her scoliosis. This shocks Courtney (and everyone else) considering how difficult filming went with her partner, Binta, a.k.a. the black woman Courtney used as a prop in her own ad before refusing to return the favor. That sounds pretty damn problematic, but to be fair, Binta was being a mildly irritating backseat phone user when Courtney couldn't figure out how to use the app. Courtney wins a trip to Italy for her troubles.

Courtney Vs. The World (Vol. 2)

In the limo ride home, Binta asks for everyone's attention so she can rip Courtney's torso open and devour her innards, uninterrupted. She accuses of Courtney of being, among other things, a bad team player and "a fucking fuck." Binta undoubtedly has rage problems considering how close she comes to slapping Courtney with her gorgeous model arms, but her anger isn't entirely unwarranted this time around.

Back at the house, there are plenty of sub-tweety conversations about karma taking place, mostly involving the twins. I cannot count the number of times in this episode someone said some variety of "I'm not saying karma's real, but karma's definitely real." Courtney walks in on one such conversation and finally decides it's time to move out of the room she's inexplicably been sharing with the twins for three episodes. Of course, she takes her sweet time packing up her drawers of lotions and creams so the three of them can have a passive-aggression-off.

The next day, Courtney falls down the stairs. Cue everybody: "I'm not glad she got hurt, buuuuuuuut…something something karma." Actually, my favorite response to Courtney's accident comes from Giah, Courtney's former defender: "I've already fallen down the stairs twice, and you don't hear me complaining."

Party Prep

Drew arrives at the house with Mickey Boardman, the editorial director of Paper, to announce this week's main challenge: attend the Paper "sexy-issue V.I.P. party" and create a three-photo set of Instagram pics. This scene also provides us with our first model stampede of the season. It should go without saying that Courtney quickly grabs the dress Tash supposedly called beforehand off the rack. We learn later that the dress doesn't actually fit Courtney, giving Tash yet another reason to light a candle in her closet-shrine to karma.

While they're getting ready for the party, a walking, talking Instagram account named Golden Barbie arrives at the house to advise the models that they should find their light and look like they're having a fun time. Thanks, Golden Barbie!

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On Paper, It's A Party

You can probably skip the shindig itself, unless you're a huge fan of (a) watching people pose for selfies and (b) seizure-inducing camera flash montages. Just know that Tash has the audacity to talk to people at a social gathering, and Courtney thinks that means she's #NotHereForTheRightReasons.

Panel

No one is more surprised than I, but the judges' critiques are actually pretty interesting this week! Compared to our regular diet of bland platitudes and insipid comments regarding hand placement, hearing the judges get into the minutiae of what makes an attention-grabbing social media narrative is a nice treat. (It's also helpful the models get to choose their own photos this week. That always adds an additional level of strategy for the judges to consider, AND ensures producers can't pull any shenanigans by choosing superior photos for their preferred contestants.)

It's interesting to see which models demonstrate a clear understanding of the "be jealous of the fun party I'm at" aesthetic of celebrity Instagram and which ones strain themselves trying to look like they're having fun. Predictably, the twenty-six-year-old twins, who are basically AARP cardholders in the model world, fail to capture the spirit of the challenge.

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Cody's, actually, aren't half-bad, but she fucks everything up for herself by declaring she wanted to portray herself as someone decidedly not the center of attention. What is the point of being a top model if you can't hold court in a room of star-fuckers? Take, for instance, Kyle and the squad of gay men she adopts for the evening.

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Some of the models (Binta and Paige in particular) even manage to transcend the DIY nature of the shoot and create spreads that look relatively professional.

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Courtney, despite the fact that one of photos is of her lying on a dirty floor, is universally praised…until she opens her mouth to give herself extra credit for performing with a sprained arm. Courtney isn't the worst quite yet, but if I'm picking up what this episode is putting down about Coryanne's future in the competition, she's about to be.

In Judging The Judges news, the chemistry of the refreshed panel finally seems to click into place this week, too. When Krislian's surprisingly strong photo set pops up, the four judges step all over one another trying to be the first one to compliment her. Rita getting up to hold Law's mouth shut so she can talk over him might have come off as pretty obnoxious two weeks ago, but now that they're a more cohesive family unit, it's more charming than grating. I'm also pleased to announce Law has defied my expectations and proven himself to be an essential part of the panel. His brash matter-of-factness feels significantly less rehearsed than it did, and I love that he's incapable of not playing favorites with his chosen few. This is Top Model judging at its most entertaining, when you get the sense of how every judge genuinely feels about every single contestant.

After their chat, the judges call the models back in and award Krislian with best photo(s) of the week, and place Coryanne and Tash in the bottom two. You'd think the elimination would be pretty straightforward -- send home the whiner, keep the woman with an entertaining grudge against one of her competitors -- but you'd be mistaken. Tash is sent packing, despite being labeled the dark horse of the competition last week.

Verdict

There's a little more fat on this episode than the previous two, but the new Top Model is still doing an admirable job attempting to recapture the glory of its heyday. Also: DJ Khalid is an endlessly fun bag of bullshit.

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